Americans Treat Their Pets Like People. Discuss

“There’s a lot to love (and dislike) about both nations; both nationalities. You can’t generalise, and you can’t stereotype.” (person commenting on USA and UK on BBC America website)

I agree with the comment.

Americans treat pets as people
Americans treat pets as people?
Until September 7th I will give 10 cents to an animal charity for every comment. It is a way to help animal welfare without much effort at no cost. Comments help this website too, which is about animal welfare.

Ruth Margolis writing for BBC America says that Americans treat their pets like people. It is a bit tongue-in-cheek but I sense that she means what she writes to a certain extent.

She refers to the famous cat and dog strollers (prams for pets), which are an American invention. If they are not an American invention, I apologise (apologize).  Actually, I think they are quite a good idea!

Interestingly, an American male comments on this:

“I have seen the same thing over there. Mind you they were gay men, but still. In a baby carriage.”

I hate to say it but the comment is so American.

Ruth Margolis also mentions the habit, among a small part of American society, of dressing up their pets to look like humans.

Then she also refers to the greater tendency of American veterinarians to prescribe Prozac and other anti-depressant drugs to cats and dogs. This is completely alien to me. I believe that people on both sides of the pond have blurred the boundaries between feeling unhappy, which is a natural part of life and being genuinely depressed. You can’t be happy without being sad. Unfortunately, a lot people don’t understand that and Margolis seems to be saying that Americans are less likely to accept unhappiness and have transferred that mentality to their cats and dogs.

Recently I did a post on people not spaying their female cats until after the cat has had at least one litter. One reason is because the owner wants the cat to experience giving birth. This is a human concept. Also a it appears that some female American cat owners want to experience child birth and child care vicariously through their cat. However, this must happen in any country.

So there you have it. I have no idea if Americans tend to treat their cats as people more than the Brits do.

There is one other unfortunate phenomenon that possible supports the argument that Americans do like to treat their cats as people. It is unique to North America. It is declawing. You could successfully argue that removing the last phalanx of all ten toes of the forelegs is an act that takes a significant part of what makes a cat away from the cat. It is an operation that de-cats the cat and makes him a fur-babe or one of those mythical human companions that is no longer a real animal. In short declawing brings the cat nearer to being human or it is a sign that Americans treat their pets like people.

Survey on Personality

There is an interesting newspaper report on a survey of 20,000 Americans and Brits which looks at the differences in personality of people from the USA and UK.

I have not seen the full results but a selection is as follows:

  • Brits are twice as likely as Americans to come across as “chilled out”.
  • Americans were twice as likely to come across as “caring” or as “energetic optimists”.
  • Americans are 13 times more likely to “flash their cash”.
  • Americans are 4 times more likely to want to talk over problems than Brits who prefer to bottle it up. Sir Michael Caine explains this by saying this about Brits:

“…If we are hearbroken we don’t scream in your face with tears, we go home and cry on our own.”

I remember a philosopher of some sort (I forget who) saying that when a Brit wants to kill himself he goes into his study and blows his brains out. When an American wants to do it, he goes to a public place and shoots half a dozen people before blowing his brains out or being shot.


To go back to the beginning……There are some great aspects and some lousy aspects to both nations and both peoples. I don’t know if what Ruth Margolis writes is true.

Brits should celebrate the good things about America and vice versa.

10 thoughts on “Americans Treat Their Pets Like People. Discuss”

  1. Yeah, a year or so late, but I came across this article while searching for info unrelated, but just couldnt pass this up. An article about nothing? Only thing it seems to do is further reinforce generalizations and stereotypes. Americans “this”, Brits “that”…what about good people and bad people? We both got ’em both.

    I understand what the writer was trying to do, but even he, at the end of his article, circles right back to the beginning. An endless loop of fodder. The comments are quite telling though. There is obvious anti American sentiment, seemingly perpetuated by the idea that ALL Americans have the same values, beliefs, etc.

    Many, many breeders in America make you sign legally binding contracts to NEVER declaw or they will not sell you their kitten, and possibly even take it back if you violate said contract. Usually declawing is done, not to make the cat more human, but because ignorant cat owners dont want their furniture or whatever clawed to destruction, or are afraid of getting clawed or injured themselves. It seems ignorance begets ignorance. “Let cats be cats”?, sure..just dont forget they are domesticated; humans did that, effectively making cats not cats a long time ago(but not as long as canines).

    And how does any human know what a cat “wants to do”? “Cat dignity”??? Really? Dignity is a HUMAN trait, not feline. You wanting your cat to have dignity is in fact treating your cat like a human. So go ahead and think what you want, its obvious you will anyway. Just dont let all that British pride get in the way of breaking the boundaries, physical and mental, that exist in an already divided global community. We all love cats(yeah, another human trait; whether you want to admit it or not), and we all like to believe our cats “love” us back(Right?).

    We should be celebrating our SIMILARITIES, discussing the differences, and informing each other to spread accurate knowledge. Humans domesticated dogs for survival in a symbiotic relationship, we domesticated cats for our “pleasure”. In fact, I joke often that CATS are the ones that have “domesticated” US… Additionally, I find great wisdom in a bumper sticker I have seen that states simply, “The more people I meet, the more I like my cat.” Coming upon this particular page makes that last one just a bit more poignant. Hate/criticize/whatever America all you want, but at least do so from an informed position…and try to keep an open mind.

    Maybe, just maybe, the human “infestation” currently on this planet will survive to continue to take care of not only ourselves, but our domesticated “companions”.

    • Americans “this”, Brits “that”…what about good people and bad people? We both got ‘em both.

      Yes, there are good and bad in both countries there are also differences in culture. Quite large differences. It is fair and sensible to discuss them.

      No matter how you package it declawing is a North American phenomenon. It is exclusive to this region and it must say something about the culture and people and what it says in my opinion is not good.

      Sure there are millions of Americans who hate it but 20+ million cats are declawed causing an untold amount of pain for human convenience. Not good.

      Hate/criticize/whatever America all you want, but at least do so from an informed position…and try to keep an open mind.

      I don’t hate Americans and neither does Margolis. I actually like a lot about America. However, on declawing alone I have a right to hate America. It is horrendous and I love cats. It seems that you are overly sensitive to any negative comments about America. I criticise the UK all the time.

      Many, many breeders in America make you sign legally binding contracts to NEVER declaw

      Yes, but an equal number don’t. The AVMA allows it (the AVMA are useless). Many vets promote declawing. This is madness as it is a breach of their oath.

      This is page on complications of declawing.

      Please read this and digest:

      The article is solid, enlightened and well researched. I dislike your defensive reaction.

      • I know all about the evils of declawing, and of vets who push the operation all the time just to make money(one of the problems of Capitalism, unfortunately played out at the expense of crippling/killing millions of cats, among a few other “atrocities”). They are worse than doctors IMO. I “preach” no declaw everywhere I go, and I dont have to attack an entire Continent at once, or Country, or even the poor state of Utah, to do so…yes even at our state level there are many different cultures and “regions”, even with different state laws. You however seem intent to place “blame” here, and spread it with your little butterknife of ignorance on this page. Sure, you got a whole bunch of British cheerleaders on your side…everybody loves to hate America, and Americans. Your statements above both confirm and deny that: What does that say about your writing, your thought process? You clearly didnt fashion your response to me with an open mind, you just stepped right back up on that anti American soapbox of yours and ignored most of what I originally said. Only picking out the parts you could “tear apart” with the same rhetoric all over your comments section. I thought as a “writer” you just might be able to see “reason”…however, correlation does not equal causation….;).

        So you missed my “point”; or you are just saving face for what seems to be a rather narrow minded readership you have here. The only reason I posted was in hopes of opening up a “constructive” dialog. Instead I have to sit here and repeat what I said(insanity), AND further defend myself because I am an American. And by your thought process, I am the same as all other Americans. You even felt compelled to “shock” me with declawing “horror show” pictures/articles, again…this is not news to me, and many other PEOPLE here in America…even a few non Americans here. You assumed that because I am American I have never even seen pictures of what declawing does… You are just putting more bricks in the wall. Obviously you want that wall…it is good for readership amongst your “fans”.

        Disliking a perceived defensive reaction on my part, only further confirms your unwillingness to “work together”.

        For the record, “solid, enlightened, and well researched” must mean totally different things in our “two” cultures. Anything “well researched” will have references(those are what back your story up). Not that I am denying the numbers you spewed out, but with out references…they dont mean anything. Even with references I would be surprised if they are unbiased, and therefore legitimate. Its about as solid as a bowel movement the day after taco night.

        What is interesting is that with out even looking at the “pictures” link you “gave” me, I notice that it is in the State of “Utah”…known for being VERY culturally different from the rest of the USA(and the world) in MANY ways. Look it up “researcher”, and see if you can understand what I mean…again, you might have to pry open that closed mind of yours…I know it hurts…but that is the only true path to “enlightenment”. Not regurgitating some other writer’s work, to spur obviously biased conversation amongst your “single culture” that you seem to think you have there.

        The WORST part is the reason you missed my point is by getting defensive YOURSELF. Cant handle a little criticism??? Your original story looped right back to the beginning at the end and you even admit it in the original story. I believe that is the definition of insanity, or at least one of them. …doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result…

        Perhaps I am a bit insane for thinking that anyone that could write(err paraphrase) such as you have done might actually keep an open mind. You have NO IDEA WHO I AM and WHAT I KNOW. You are lumping all of America into ONE group, ONE culture…REALLY??? One culture in America??? I can understand “one culture” from a country with an even more antiquated legal system than ours, and a “royal” family tree with not enough branches. But hey, I guess I was over optimistic in your understanding and bias…

        Enjoy your little circle jerk there…I am sure you will all please each other eventually, even “Mrs. Felix”.

        Good Day Sir….too bad we couldnt help more cats “together”, instead of arguing about ignorance and intolerance. “We” are worse than “my” American Congress… …and who suffers???(besides your bruised ego)….the cats… Your priorities are as obvious as your bias.

  2. But cats are NOT people so I don’t think it in any way clever to boast they are treated like people.
    Would they dress a dog?Put it in a stroller?
    Let cats keep their dignity,let them BE CATS

  3. Dear Editor,

    I note your article of 22 June concerning “cats as humans”. I feel it is my duty to respond to the slight to the British People, offered therein by Mrs. Margolis. She is, if I may say so, a woman of lamentably small education in the British Arts.

    I must point out for the benefit of your readers that Mr. Louis Wain, an artist and a man of generosity, and a True Englishman, was head and shoulders above any American who casually imitates his style today. Why must the myth persist that Americans invented the clever idea of transmogrifying cats to humans? I, as an upright defender of our British cultural heritage, resist the idea that “Americans invent everything”.

    Mrs. Felix Foote

    Inchingcat House
    Greater Sussex

    • Mrs Felix Foote we expect being English that you have all your toe ends and claws intact just as we do and that your family are as horrified as ours are at the very thought of cats being legally disabled every day in America, because declawing is one thing they DID invent over there.

  4. Well we all know it’s wrong to stereotype people because life just isn’t like that, everyone is different whatever country or nation they live in, but I’m a bit guilty of doing that very thing myself with some of my comments on declawing for example, I admit I refer to the USA as being pro declaw when I know very well there are many, many, maybe even millions of people as appalled by it as we are who are working day after day to get it banned. It’s the old “all tarred with the same brush” thing. But strollers and clothes for pets, I hate them! I’ve seen clothes for cats and dogs in this country, in £ shops, and I wonder what sort of moron is going to buy them and dress their cat or dog up as a mini cowboy or Santa. There may even be strollers in this country, maybe in London Michael? I hope not, I hope I never see a cat in a hybrid pushchair because I fear my head will pop with the rush of pressure from my blood boiling.
    We should be celebrating the differences between cat and human and dog and human and marvelling at the miracle that makes us able to live happily beside another species, not trying to turn them into mini-me’s.

  5. I laughed out loud when I saw the title of this Michael.
    Well I don’t know what planet Ruth Margolis lives on but never in a month of Sundays would I agree that Americans treat their pets like people while they still declaw cats there.
    As for dressing cats up and taking them out in prams, do some people really believe cats want that?
    Of course they don’t, cats want to be cats, they don’t want to be people. They don’t want to wear clothes and be taken out like babies in prams, they want to use their own feet, roll in the grass, feel the sun on their fur, do what cats do.
    Yes there are good things about America and that’s the anti declaw people who know cats are not people and that they need their claws to be what they were born to be….CATS…..Cats are family but in a different form to human family and just as we don’t want to go hunting rodents, they don’t want to do what we do.

    • Margolis made this list of things that she didn’t like about Americans, one of which was treating cats as people. The idea actually cuts two ways. If a person treats a cat as a person it should benefit the cat because people generally treat other people better than they treat cats. However, on the other side, treating a cat as a person is failing to respect the cat as a cat and trying to make a cat like a person. This can lead to some unfortunate consequences.

      There is only one sure thing: cats should be respected for what they are and not what we might want them to be.


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